Rice. Yep, rice – how boring is that? I have been buying their frozen brown rice since my very first trip to a Trader Joe’s several years ago. I also love their frozen jasmine rice. It is so handy, just 3 minutes in the microwave, making it a week night life saver. And, not only is it quick and easy to prepare, it tastes good plain! I have been known to eat a bowl of plain brown rice for breakfast on occasion, and a half bag of this rice fits the bill.
Don’t get me wrong – there are many, many other Trader Joe’s products that I enjoy, but this one is the most versatile, and has become a staple in my kitchen. I try to always keep a box of it in the freezer. Here’s a quick and easy recipe for rice pilaf, a nice side dish to go with chicken, fish, beef, or tofu. Traditional pilaf recipes involve cooking the rice in broth. Since this is a “quick and easy” version, I use pre-cooked rice, and add the broth to the rice and veggie mixture.
There are many different versions of rice pilaf (also called pilau, palov, and about a dozen other names), as it is a common dish in many different countries around the world, using spices common to the local cuisine. There are a couple other more traditionally prepared recipes that I love, especially this one for Chicken and Collards Pilau from Southern Living. It’s a terrific hearty one pot meal that bakes up nice and fluffy in a cast iron dutch oven.
If you are pressed for time, and want something to get on the table after a long day at work, here’s semi-homemade version.
Brown Rice Pilaf
2 bags of Trader Joes frozen brown rice
2 teaspoons olive oil
¼ cup diced sweet yellow onion
1 stalk of celery, diced
¼ cup of matchstick carrots, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
fresh cracked pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1-2 tablespoons of cooking marsala
1/3 to ½ cup chicken broth
¼ cup sliced almonds
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until golden brown, then add the celery and carrots. Season with oregano, basil, ½ teaspoon of the salt and some pepper. Stir to mix the spices into the veggies, then add the Worcestershire sauce and a splash of cooking marsala. Add the frozen rice to the pan, season with the other ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir into the veggie mixture. Cook, gently tossing the rice until it is completely coated for 1-2 minutes, careful to not let the rice stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir in the chicken broth, and heat through. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. Right before serving, sprinkle with almonds and freshly chopped chives.